Who We Are | What We Do | Why It Matters

SmartTots is a collaborative effort of the IARS, the U.S. FDA and many others who are working to make anesthesia safer for infants and children.

Who We Are

SmartTots is a collaborative effort of the IARS, the FDA and many others who are working to make anesthesia safer for infants and children.

SmartTots is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). The mission of this partnership is to coordinate and fund research with the goal of ensuring safe surgery for the millions of infants and young children who undergo anesthesia and/or sedation each year. The FDA and IARS work together with multiple stakeholders to leverage their collective resources in an effort to address this important issue.

What We Do

SmartTots funds pediatric anesthesia research with the goal of making surgery safer for infants and children.

Our purpose is to fund research with the goal of making surgery safer for the over one million infants and young children who undergo anesthesia and sedation each year. We are guided by top experts in multiple fields, including anesthesiology, pediatrics, neuroscience, and epidemiology. Specifically, we facilitate and support studies of existing anesthetic drugs and their effects on childhood development. Drug type, dosage and number of exposures are studied to determine if particular anesthetic drugs pose hazards to young children. Findings from our research will allow for the safest anesthetic regimes and potentially foster the development of new anesthetic drugs.

Why It Matters

Scientific studies in animals reveal certain common anesthetic and sedation drugs cause harm to the developing brain and can negatively effect behavior, learning, and memory. 

Currently, major scientific and clinical knowledge gaps exist regarding the safe use of anesthetics and sedatives in children. Recent observational studies suggest that there is a link between the development of learning disabilities with the use of multiple anesthetics administered in infants and children prior to four years of age. Much more research is needed to definitively determine the risk. SmartTots is working with multiple stakeholders to fund research that will address these gaps in knowledge. Findings from these research studies will establish new practice guidelines and, as necessary, new age-appropriate anesthetics, ultimately making anesthesia and sedation safer for children around the world.